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How to Create the Right Ambiance for Your Small Business

AUTHOR: Sogol Sabbar

There are many things as a business owner you think about on a daily basis; finances, marketing, inventory and many other aspects, but within all of this, is ambience one of them? It should be. Ambience sets the mood, character, quality, tone and atmosphere of your business. When you think about ambience, think about your own experiences you’ve had with other businesses. What was your first impression? How did the ambience make you feel? Would you visit that business again based on the vibe you got from visiting it?

Creating the right ambience might sound difficult, but it actually is one of the easier parts of running your business. Just start by thinking of your space from the customer’s perspective. Here are just a few ideas to get you started.

Décor

Almost every room you walk into, whether it’s a business or someone’s home, there is some type of décor that makes you feel and act a certain way. It might make you happy, make you laugh, make you feel warm and welcomed, make you feel apprehensive, sad or even scared. Think about how you want your customers to feel when they walk through your business doors. If you have a professional business, you’d want your customers to feel like they are in a place they can trust and be confident in the service they are about to receive. If you have a retail business, you’d want your customers to walk freely through your store and want to spend some time in finding what they want and need. If you’re a restaurant owner, you’d want your customers to feel comfortable and excited knowing that they are about to have a great meal. Even if you have an auto body shop, it is important to make sure that you have a clean and clutter-free environment to allow your customers to feel that they are working with an efficient shop.

You could decorate your space by putting artwork on the walls that are specific to your business, bring in furniture that portrays the look and feel you are going for. If you have brand colors specific to your business, incorporate that throughout your space. If there are specific sayings you go by, display them somewhere so that customers get a feel for who you are. It gives them a little sneak peak of what you stand for, allowing them to resonate even more with your business and sets you apart from others.

Front Desk

The front desk/reception area or counter of your business has a lot of impact on how customers will judge your business. Make sure it is always organized, clean, and behind the desk is a friendly associate who is greeting every customer upon arrival. The look and feel you create in this area should be used as a first impression, so think about the first impression you want to give your customers. Some things to ask yourself are, who is representing your business behind the desk, how should they be dressed and what should be placed on and around the area?

Seating

We all know many people do not like to wait around, and if they have to stand a long period of time they are sure to get restless, tired and maybe even angry. If your business has long wait times, make sure you provide comfortable and plenty of seating areas. This will allow your customers to feel more comfortable, have more patience, and gives them a better experience. They will remember your business as being accommodating and professional.

Lighting

In many cases, lighting in a business is pretty bright. But in cases of a restaurant or a specialty store lighting goes a long way. In a restaurant for breakfast and lunch, a restaurant owner may have regular lighting but come dinner time they may dim the lights and/or add candles on the tables to set a more romantic atmosphere. For a specialty store, spotlighting can help highlight slower moving or hot items sell off the shelves quicker. If lighting is a factor in your business, think about ways it can help you set the right vibe for your business.

Music

Ever walk into a business and find yourself bopping your head to the music that was playing? You enjoyed that right? Why not give your customers that same enjoyment? If you decide that playing music will enhance your business’ vibe, then think about what kind of music will create the right mood. Many business owners allow music to be played just for the sake of it, but music in the business place needs more attention. Get creative and specific with your music choices. Think outside the box and play music that resonates well with your customers and brand. For instance, if you have an Italian restaurant you could play authentic Italian music. According to research done by Technomic Consumer Brand Metrics, fifty-two percent of millennials say that the music selection of a restaurant is an important factor in their decision to visit a casual-dining restaurant.

Entertaining Material

Almost everyone has a multifunction smartphone that keeps them busy and entertained. So why should you provide entertaining materials for your customers, such as books, magazines, and the local newspaper? Because it shows that you care about your customers and understand that they might end up having to wait for their product or services. By providing them with materials that they can use to keep busy you are helping them pass the time. Think about what your customers would enjoy. You could maybe even set up a television or provide a computer area with Wi-Fi if possible. It’s just another way of creating a comfortable atmosphere for your customers and giving them a good experience.

Children’s Play Area

Children these days are becoming more and more impatient. With the rise of technology and having everything available to you right at your fingertips and in a matter of seconds, parents need to work harder to keep children entertained longer. Use this opportunity to create a nice place in your business for parents by providing a children’s play area with toys, books, and games. This will go a long way giving stressed out parents some peace while they wait. They will appreciate your thoughtfulness and will remember your business as the business that is kid-friendly and most accommodating to them.

Snacks and Drinks

Many businesses provide snacks and drinks as a show of hospitality to their customers. Providing a small snack and refreshments says a lot about you and your business. It shows that you understand that your customers may have had a long day and haven’t had a chance to eat or drink anything or are going to wait for a while. By simply providing these accommodations you are already endearing yourself to your customers and leaving a lasting positive impression. Remember, it doesn’t have to be extravagant; you could simply have a coffee or tea bar with snacks, or just some water bottles. These small gestures go a long way.

Restrooms

Creating the right atmosphere for your business doesn’t stop at what you can see as soon as you walk through the doors. Remember to pay attention to your restrooms also. Clean and well-maintained restrooms speak volumes of the business. If you are a restaurant owner, your restrooms are a reflection of the cleanliness of your eating establishment, so keep them well stocked, clean and accessible. You don’t want your customers to walk into your restrooms frown and walk straight out and out of your business to go look for another restroom.

Remember, your customers’ experience isn’t just about customer service. Paying attention to the little things like your company’s ambience is also key to a better customer experience, which could mean repeat customers. No matter what type of business you have, set yourself apart from your competitors by personalizing your space.